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10-Step WHS Compliance Process

Ensure a safe and healthy workplace, and compliance with laws and regulations

WHS compliance is essential for businesses and government organisations to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for employees. WHS compliance can assist in meeting legal requirements, improving productivity, reducing absenteeism and turnover, and lowering the potential for provisional fines and reputational damage.

Achieving WHS compliance in a business or organisation will assist to ensure that employees are safe and healthy while they perform their duties.

A comprehensive WHS compliance process is necessary and involves:

WHS Compliance Process - 10 Steps to compliance

The 10 Step WHS Compliance Process

While a WHS Compliance Process does not necessarily follow a particular procedure, it should include the following steps.

In this context, understanding the steps involved in the WHS compliance process is crucial for business owners, managers, and also employees.

In larger companies and government organisations, Work Health and Safety (WHS) compliance processes are typically more structured and formalised than in small and medium sized businesses. This is mainly, because dedicated WHS teams in larger corporates help ensure that potential hazards are identified, reported, and as required issues are addressed promptly.  

In smaller companies, WHS compliance processes are often less formalised and may even rely only on informal communication between employees and managers. While this often is due to the initial and then ongoing costs of implementing appropriate WHS processes, the costs of absenteeism, injuries or even fatalities due to incident at a workplace are much higher. To avoid those financial risk and reduce potential harm to employees, smaller companies should implement at least a basic WHS compliance process.

Step 1 - Audit

An immersive audit is a thorough and comprehensive review of existing procedures, standards, and all documents related to Workplace Health and Safety compliance. This audit process involves close examination of the processes and systems in place to identify potential hazards, risks, management & employee responsibilities, and areas for improvement.

The immersive audit process involves site visits, interviews with employees and management, and a detailed review of documentation related to WHS practices at a workplace.

The goal of this step is to gain a deep understanding of the current WHS systems and needs within an organisation, to identify areas of deficiencies, and to establish a basis on which a plan to minimise health and safety risks can be developed.

The audit can involve the following steps:

  1. Reviewing policies and procedures related to WHS compliance to ensure they are up-to-date and aligned with regulatory requirements
  2. Reviewing site plans and documentation
  3. Examining incident reports to identify patterns or trends
  4. Reviewing existing training programs and assessing their effectiveness
  5. Interviewing employees and management to gather comprehensive details of WHS
  6. Examining procedure & manuals for safety equipment and the effectiveness of their use
  7. Assessing the efficiency of emergency response plans and procedures
  8. Evaluating the level of employee engagement and participation in WHS compliance efforts

Step 2 - Hazard Identification

The identification of current hazards in the workplace is a critical step in the WHS compliance process. It involves systematically identifying and assessing hazards that may create risks and harm or injury to workers, visitors, or members of the public within or around the workplace.

The process of identifying hazards typically involves the following steps:

Conducting a site inspection: A site inspection is a visual inspection of the workplace to identify potential hazards, including physical hazards such as machinery, equipment, and infrastructure, and chemical or biological hazards such as toxic substances, hazardous waste, and biological agents. A site inspection can also assist to identify ergonomic and psychological hazards.

Consulting with workers and their representatives: Consulting with workers and safety representatives’ committees, helps to identify hazards that may not be immediately apparent to the auditor.

Conducting a job safety analysis: A job safety analysis involves breaking down a job into individual tasks and identifying potential hazards associated with each task.

Seeking external expert advice: It may be necessary to seek external expert advice from safety professionals or other relevant experts to identify and assess complex or high-risk hazards.

Once potential hazards have been identified, it is important to prioritize them based on their potential severity and likelihood of and incident or accident occurring, and to develop a plan to eliminate or control risks associated with hazards.

Step 3 - Risk Assessment

Conducting a risk assessment of each hazard identified is an essential part of a WHS compliance Audit. A risk assessment is a process of evaluating the potential harm that a hazard could cause and determining the likelihood and severity of that harm occurring.

The risk assessment process should include steps such as:

Determination of the likelihood of harm: Considering the likelihood of the hazard causing harm, taking into account factors such as frequency of exposure, the nature of the hazard, and the control measures in place.

Determination of the severity of harm: Considering the potential severity of harm that could result from exposure to the hazard, taking into account factors such as the type of injury, the extent of harm, and the potential impact on the worker's health and safety.

Evaluation of the risk level: The level of risk associated with hazard is determined by combining the likelihood and severity ratings.

Step 4 - Gap Analysis

A gap analysis compares the current state of an organisation’s risk management practices against a desired state or industry “best in class” practices. It should be completed once the Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment was completed.

The gap analysis process usually involves the following steps:

Definition of the desired state in the future: Establishing a clear understanding of the desired future state of the organisation's risk management approach. That can could include details regarding regulatory requirements, industry “best in class” practices, or internal policies and procedures.

Assessment of the findings of the WHS Audit (Step 1)

Identification of existing gaps: Identification of gaps or deficiencies in the current state by comparing it to the desired state, and determine the root cause of each gap or deficiency.

Step 5 - Development or update of Risk Mitigation approach

Based on the findings of the gap analysis an action plan should be developed to address any identified gaps or areas for improvement.

This step might involve tasks such as:

Developing new procedures: Outlining specific steps or actions that need to be taken to mitigate risks and ensure WHS compliance.

Identifying new controls: Planning the implementation of new physical or administrative controls such as PPE, signage, and engineering controls to reduce the likelihood of hazards and risks.

Developing training programs: Creating training sessions or modules to educate employees and managers on WHS requirements, hazard identification, and appropriate control measures.

Developing or updating a WHS monitoring system: Defining processes such as monitoring and reporting for incidents or near misses, tracking and analysis of trends, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the new controls and procedures.

Step 6 - Update of policies & procedures

Once the areas for improvement have been identified, the auditor can work with management and other stakeholders to develop new policies and procedures that address the identified issues. This may involve research to identify “best practice” industry benchmarks or consulting with subject matter experts.

Researching benchmarks and industry references involves gathering information on how other organisations, particularly those in the same industry or with similar operations, address similar issues related to workplace health and safety. This can be done by reviewing published worksheets and policies, reports of industry authorities or case studies. By identifying best industry practices used by others, the auditor can recommend the adoption of these practices in developing new policies and procedures.

Consulting subject matter experts for advice and input will assure that recommended policies for specific areas, for example the correct storage of chemicals are realistic and implementable.
The auditor may consult with an occupational health and safety specialist, an ergonomics expert, or a fire safety consultant, depending on the specific issues identified during the audit.
The input of subject matter experts can help ensure that the new policies and procedures are based on current data and are tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of the organisation.

Step 7 - Training & communication of findings, gaps, and control

When implementing a Work Health and Safety compliance system, effective training and communication strategies are essential. Employees must understand the new or updated WHS policies, procedures that will be implemented, and general practices of the organisation.

Here are some examples of what training and communication should be developed during an WHS compliance project:



A combination of training and communication strategies is essential to ensure that all employees understand their WHS responsibilities and are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to maintain a safe and healthy work environment.

Step 8 - Monitoring & frequent review

During a Workplace Health and Safety compliance review, timeframes and frequencies for ongoing monitoring and reviews should be defined as part of the ongoing efforts to reduce risks.

The monitoring process could include:

Regular safety inspections: Conducting regular safety inspections of the workplace to identify any new hazards or to assure controls are in place and policies are followed

Review of incident reporting and investigation: Implementing a system for reporting and thoroughly investigating incidents, accidents, and near-misses.

Safety related data analysis: Analysing data, such as average sick leave per team or station, down times of machines, user tracking of online training portal, workers feedback and worker compensation claims.

WHS monitoring will help you identify trends and areas that require a detailed review or improvement in a timely manner.

Step 9 - Record keeping

Record keeping is crucial to ensure WHS compliance. It provides evidence that the necessary steps have been taken to identify and manage workplace hazards and risks.
Accurate and comprehensive records demonstrate compliance with legislative requirements, help identify patterns of incidents and injuries, and enable effective monitoring and evaluation of WHS performance.
Good record keeping also supports the investigation of claims. Ultimately, record keeping is an essential part of maintaining a safe and healthy workplace, reducing risk and liability.

Records that should be kept can include:

Risk assessment documentation: Records of risk assessments, hazard identification, risk evaluation, and control measures implemented.

Training and instruction schedules: Records of training and instruction provided to workers, including details of the training program, participants, and outcomes or certificates issued.

Incident & accident reports: Records of incidents, accidents, and near-misses, including documentation of investigations and findings or corrective actions taken.

Site inspections: Records of workplace inspections and audits, including recommendations for improvement.

Medical records & PPE Fit Test results: Records of medical assessments, PPE Fit Testing results, and information regarding pre-employment medicals and periodic health checks, should be kept to monitor the health of workers and to identify any potential workplace-related health issues.

Step 10 - Reporting

A vital part of a Work Health & Safety Compliance Process is reporting.

This involves compiling a comprehensive document that outlines the results of the audit, including any areas of non-compliance or potential hazards identified during the audit process.

The report may also include recommendations for remedial actions to address any identified deficiencies or risks.

The WHS Report helps ensure that all stakeholders, including management, employees, contractors or authorities, are aware of the audit findings and can take appropriate actions to address any identified issues. The report might also be used as a tool to track progress towards mitigating or resolving any identified risks.

To accommodate for the various interests of stakeholders, the report should include specific information, focussed on their information needs, roles or responsibilities.


Different stakeholders might find the following interesting and helpful:

Board of Directors, Owner & Management: Management may be interested in the overall findings and recommendations of the audit report, as well as any significant non-compliance issues that were identified. They may also be interested in the root causes of any identified deficiencies, as well as the recommended remedial actions and timelines for implementation.

Workers & Contractors: Workers may be interested in the findings related to workplace hazards or risks, and any recommended measures to address them. They may also be interested in any recommendations related to training and awareness-raising initiatives to improve workplace safety and health.

Authorities & external auditors: Authorities may be interested in the overall compliance status of the organisation, as well as any significant non-compliance issues that were identified during the audit process. They may also be interested in the recommended remedial actions and timelines for implementation, as well as any follow-up or monitoring plans.

Clients, Customers & Third-Party provider: Customers or other stakeholders may be interested in the overall safety performance of the organisation, as well as any measures that are being taken to address identified deficiencies or risks. They may also be interested in any initiatives related to improving workplace safety and health, as these may impact the reputation and credibility of the organisation.

Overall, reports are structured in a way that provides relevant and useful information to all stakeholders, while also being concise and easy to understand.

WHS Compliance Process - 10 Steps to compliance

Ensuring Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) compliance is crucial for businesses as it helps to create a safe and healthy workplace for employees. It mitigates the risk of an incident occurring. A modern and active approach to WHS not only ensures legal compliance but also has a positive impact on productivity, but it can also reduce staff  turnover, and it mitigates financial and reputational risks.

By prioritizing the health and safety of their employees, businesses can create a positive work culture that promotes employee well-being and job satisfaction. This, in turn, can increase employee engagement, improve morale and foster loyalty to the organisation.

Ultimately, investing in WHS compliance can lead to long-term success for businesses and their employees.

If you have a question or consider HSE Australia to conduct a WHS Compliance audit at your workplace, please contact us on 1300-SAFETY or send an email to

If you have any concerns about Work HEalth & Safety at your workplace, contact us.

HSE Australia’s team of Work Health & Safety Specialists is available 24/7 and Australia-wide.

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